Skip to content

Annual May Day parade and celebrations a huge hit in Clearwater

Valley Pride Society, community partners were sponsors for fun and free event
The annual Clearwater May Day parade on May 18 had little Addisyn Fletcher visiting from Grande Prairie with parents Diane Nolette and Roger Fletcher checking her loot bag for candy thrown from passing participants. (Photo by: Hettie Buck)

The May Day parade is a tradition in Clearwater on the Victoria Day long weekend, and the Valley Pride Society once again hosted the day’s events on May 18.

This is the second year for the Valley Pride-hosted parade, and participants decorated vehicles, themselves and floats in colourful ways to celebrate the 2024 theme of “Why you love where you live”.

Residents and tourists alike enjoyed the delicious Elks-sponsored pancake breakfast and all the fixings, and were entertained by singer Justine Hunt while strolling through the country-style Farmers’ Market. It started at the Elks Hall and carried through to the grounds of the Dutch Lake Community Centre (DLCC) field in the afternoon.

As the anticipation built for the kids, with billowing storm clouds looking ready to spill precious rain and patches of bright blue sky as a backdrop, people of all ages lined the parade route, bringing their own chairs or blankets to grab the best vantage point before the sirens and horns of emergency vehicles signaled the start of the procession.

The first responder units from Wells Gray Search and Rescue, Clearwater, Blackpool and Little Fort Fire Departments, BC Ambulance Service, and the Clearwater RCMP didn’t hold back, deploying sirens and lights while throwing out lots of treats for young and old alike along the route. Local businesses, groups and individuals joined in the candy tosses along the way.

Clearwater mayor Merlin Blackwell and Barriere mayor Ward Stamer both joined in the fun, riding in unique vehicles. Blackwell drove his own 1964 Datsun collector truck, hauling his movable “Downtown” directional sign pole, and Stamer rode in an older model GMC pickup, waving to the crowd.

The parade sponsors included the Valley Pride Society, Wells Gray Community Forest, On Call Service Centre, the District of Clearwater, the Community and Unity Coffee House, Buy Low Foods, and Yellowhead Community Services.

Families cheered, waved and applauded as they lined the route, which started at Kershaw subdivision and travelled along the Old Highway through the Brookfield shopping area. It ended at DLCC’s large field, where vendors welcomed the community to spend an afternoon enjoying games, activities and crafts for the kids, musical performances, and some delicious food under the Buy Low tent.

Gateway Grill and the mother/daughter team of Harjit Sandhu and Princess Mavi served up some delicious Indian-style Hakka noodles and hotdogs by donation, with many returning for seconds after sampling the tasty vegan veggie-loaded spiced noodle dish.

Coordinators Theresa Braaten and Valley Pride’s executive director Kalen Jones were met with applause and cheers from the crowd gathered on the field following the parade as they thanked all of the participants and those attending this year’s popular event.

Jones addressed the crowd, saying “This year was such a fabulous parade and we have to thank Theresa for another amazing year and all of her hard work in planning and organizing this successful day.” The crowd responded with more rousing cheers and applause.

Accepting the microphone from Jones, parade coordinator Braaten spoke with emotion, saying “Kalen is so awesome for our town. He’s wonderful to work with and he puts on so many community events for all of us to enjoy while still running his catering and restaurant company. Please show him your thanks.”

Pausing to allow the sounds of cheers for Jones, Braaten announced the “best of” parade winners in specific categories:

Silver seniors: Wells Gray Country Seniors Society

Vibrant Youth Group: Clearwater Minor Hockey

Hot Wheels: Madison Clark and crew

Brilliant Business: BC Parks with Living in Love Events

Home Hardware

All winners received a $50 prize.

Braaten added, “A very gracious thank you to Home Hardware for donating their winnings back. Thanks to the road crew from On Call Service Centre; Tyson, Darlene, Kevin, Dave, Joey, Thomas, and Daniel. They did a fantastic job keeping the route safe and organized.

“Thanks to the volunteers for manning the side roads; Orlynn, Lyle, Fred, Barb, Jason, Brendan, Craig, and Lynne the registrar and Jason for judging. These things just can’t happen without volunteers so thanks so much for your time and effort.”

The coordinator also thanked the main sponsors before passing the musical introduction on to Unity Coffee House host and beloved community musician Tom Coles, who reminded everyone of the talented musicians and performers who come out to entertain during the winter season at coffee houses in the valley and during the summer season as part of the Wells Gray Lively Arts roster.

Wells Gray Lively Arts will soon be starting off a new line-up of talent (to be announced) on the DLCC stage starting in June. The popular weekly musical evening attracts locals and tourists throughout the summer.

Getting ready to start the show during the line up preparations for the 2024 May Day parade themed ‘Why you love where you live’ on May 18. (Photo by: Theresa Braaten)
Rhett Moss shouted over and over saying, “Weeeoooos coming Weeoooos come!” with excitement describing the first responder units sirens as he watched the parade coming towards him while pointing to alert his parents and others during the May Day parade in Clearwater on May 18. (Photo by: Hettie Buck)
Clearwater, Blackpool, and Little Fort Volunteer Fire departments along with first responder units from Wells Gray Search and Rescue, the Clearwater RCMP, and BC Ambulance Service thrilled the audience lining the May Day parade route on May 18 in Clearwater with their sirens and flashing lights on full display. (Photo by: Hettie Buck)
Wells Gray Home Hardware in Clearwater won the prize in the business category during the Valley Pride hosted May Day parade on May 18 with the theme of ‘Why you love where you live’. (Photo by: Hettie Buck)
‘Moose Camp John’ - local resident John Meyer driving his ‘hot rod’ during the annual May Day parade sponsored by Valley Pride, the District of Clearwater, Wells Gray Community Forest, Yellowhead Community Services, and the Unity Coffee House on May 18. (Photo by: Michelle Curtis)
Wells Gray Search and Rescue’s Bev Buck handing out treats and enjoying the kids along the parade route during the annual May Day parade on May 18 in Clearwater. (Photo by: Hettie Buck)
Cruisin’ Clearwater’s own Ryan Mackenzie and family showing up in their shiny black Chevy Nova during the May Day parade on May 18. (Photo by: Hettie Buck)
Valerie Morhart in the business category proudly displaying her Blinds and More to Your Door motto during the ‘Why you love where you live’ themed May Day parade in Clearwater on May 18. (Photo by: Theresa Braaten)
Clearwater Speedway participated in the annual May Day parade on May 18. Seen here is Kayden Clark with his vibrant purple #10. (Photo by: Michelle Curtis)
Tracy and husband Grant Simpson, detachment commander for the Clearwater RCMP driving the RCMP ATV and tossing treats to kids along the parade route during the 2024 May Day parade on May 18. (Photo by: Hettie Buck)
BC Parks and Living in Love’s fun float full of forest friends during the May 18 Victoria Day May Day parade in Clearwater. (Photo by: Hettie Buck)
Mayor Merlin Blackwell is ready to point the way to “Downtown” Clearwater which could be in a variety of places according to his theory so he’s ready to plant the sign in a new place each week to highlight the cool key points of Clearwater for visitors to the area. Seen here in his collector 1964 Datsun pick up enjoying the May 18 parade along the ‘Old’ highway. (Photo by: Hettie Buck)
Gateway Grill in the business category during the Valley Pride sponsored May Day parade on May 18 with the company van decorated with butterflies. (Photo by: Michelle Curtis)
Mayor of Barriere Ward Stamer in a green GMC collector truck in Clearwater on May 18 during the May Day celebrations. (Photo by: Black Press)
The Wells Gray Community Seniors Society showing off their community spirit during the 2024 May Day parade on May 18. (Photo by: Hettie Buck)
Work BC joined in the May Day fun during the May 18 parade festivities with the flashy blue and gold themed float truck. (Photo by: Hettie Buck)
After the May Day parade finished everyone gathered on May 18 at the Dutch Lake Community Centre field to enjoy a market, music, food and fun games and activities. (Photo by: Theresa Braaten)
After the May Day parade in Clearwater on May 18 everyone gathered at the Dutch Lake Community Centre for games, activities, food and fun. This toilet paper mummy named ‘Abbey’ (according to her own Mommy) had her own way of saying, ‘It’s a wrap’ to a day full of fun just before the rain melted away the paper on her costume. Great timing for the parade and not so hot for a TP’d mummy. (Photo by: Hettie Buck)
Alfredo and his human ‘dad’ having some play time as they wait for the May Day parade to start on Sat. May 18 in Clearwater. (Photo by: Hettie Buck)
The May Day Elks pancake breakfast on May 18 was enjoyed by all. (Photo by: Hettie Buck)
Justine Hunt, owner of a nail salon in Clearwater, also loves singing, and provided some entertainment during the May Day Elks breakfast and market on May 18. (Photo by: Hettie Buck)

About the Author: Hettie Buck

Read more